Dale enjoyed baseball and had played since he was 4.
After eleven weeks of summer break, which included sleeping in and playing ball, Dale’s leisure time would quickly be replaced with the rigors of the middle school curriculum.
Dale’s favorite teacher last year was, as he put it, “the one that taught the native stuff.” Of course, he meant the teacher who taught bilingual and Cultural Education. Dale’s mother, Jacquelyn, proudly said that his teachers last year complimented Dale for “his happiness, smiling, and asking questions.”
Dale enjoyed baseball and had played since he was 4-years-old. Pitching and third base was his forte on the diamond, and like many boys his age, he dreamed of playing professionally. However, he would graciously accept a scholarship, exchanging play for a college education. For the time being, he needed to trade his glove and ball for pen and paper during the weekdays.
We sat at the kitchen table with Jacquelyn and Dale.
Our staff met with Dale and his mother, Jacquelyn, at Dale’s grandparents’ house. We sat at the kitchen table with the two of them, within earshot of his grandparents.
“Three generations of this family has attended the same school. There’s lots of history here,” Jacquelyn shared. Dale’s grandfather attended San Diego Riverside, but at that time, it was maintained by the Catholic Church. Dale’s grandmother also supplied her own experience at San Diego Riverside and said, “I attended the school for a year, but I had to move to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Day School because I didn’t have school supplies.”
Apparently, school supplies for the student body of nearly 100 children were still an issue. The school had a registration table in the main hallway containing folders for each of the grades (K-8). The middle school list (6-8 grades) were the same items for all three grades and consisted of twenty-three different supplies in total. As school budgets tightened, parents were being asked to bring items that had typically been the school’s responsibility in years past, such as Kleenex, copy paper, dry erase markers, USD mass storage devices and headphones — just to name a few.
Dale would also receive a personal hygiene kit.
Schools and families were on the front lines of budget cuts and administrators were fully aware of the burden parents were under to fulfill the supply lists. This was particularly true in small communities with high rates of poverty and minimal access to chain discount stores.
To assist with the costs, our Program Partners could request backpacks and supplies from the PWNA’s American Indian Education Fund (AIEF) program. The School Supply service helped to ease this financial investment to educate these Native children.
As a parent, Jacquelyn was appreciative of the assortment of items included in the backpack. Each bag that Dale and his classmates received would include basic supplies to start school without the worry that Dale’s grandmother suffered in her generation when she attended school.
The students would also receive some personal hygiene kits to help equip them for their physical education class. This saved the family more money to use for the other supplies and hopefully some school clothes for a growing young man.
Thanks to our dedicated Program Partners and generous donors, Dale and his classmates were better equipped for the school year.